Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Literary and military WANT!

As regular readers will know, I'm a huge fan of the science fiction of Robert A. Heinlein, otherwise known as The Master (with two capital letters).

One of his more interesting and engaging books was 'Glory Road', a combination science fiction and fantasy work first published in 1963.

The hero, Oscar Gordon, finds himself in need of a sword.

"... and [I] found there the blade that suited me the way Excalibur suited Arthur.

I've never seen one quite like it, so I don't know what to call it. A saber, I suppose, as the blade was faintly curved and razor sharp on the edge and sharp rather far on the back. But it had a point as deadly as a rapier and the curve was not enough to keep it from being used for thrust and counter quite as well as chopping away meat-axe style. The guard was a bell curved back around the knuckles into a semi-basket but cut away enough to permit full moulinet from any guard.

It balanced in the forte less than two inches from the guard, yet the blade was heavy enough to chop bone. It was the sort of sword that feels like an extension of your body.

The grip was honest sharkskin, molded to my hand. There was a motto chased on to the blade but it was so buried in curlicues that I did not take time to study it out. This girl was mine, we fitted! I returned it and buckled belt and scabbard to my bare waist, wanting the touch of it and feeling like Captain John Carter, and the Gascon and his three friends all in one.

. . .

I drew my sword and glanced along it, feeling its exquisite balance while noting again the faint ripples left by the feather-soft hammerblows of some master swordsmith. I tossed it and caught it by the forte. "Read the motto, Star."

She traced it out. "Dum vivimus, vivamus! -- 'While we live, let us live!' "

-- Glory Road, Robert Heinlein

To my mingled joy and lustful desire, I find that Albion Swords has produced a reproduction of Oscar Gordon's sword, the Lady Vivamus.

This is the only official Lady Vivamus, endorsed by the Heinlein Prize Trust, in a limited edition of 100 swords, based on the sword described in the Robert Heinlein classic, Glory Road.

Similar to a military or fencing sabre and suitable for both thrust and heavy cutting, the slightly curved, hollow-ground blade comes to a rapier-like point, and is sharp 10" along the back edge.

Specifications for Lady Vivamus:
Overall length: 42" (106 cm)
Blade length: 35.25" (89.5 cm)
Blade width (at bell): 1.375"
CoB: 3.75" from Guard (9.53 cm)
CoP: 23" from Guard (58.4 cm)
Weight: 2.75 lbs (1.25 kilos)

There's more at the link, including many more photographs of the sword, some showing it in detail.

The sword costs $3,000, and a matching scabbard will set you back another $1,000, so there's no way on earth I can afford it . . . but boy, would I like to have one! It looks like a true fighting man's weapon, to be appreciated as such. (It seems others share my high opinion of it.)

(And no, I'm not being paid to advertise for Albion Swords: I just like craftsmanship when I see it, and the literary association of this particular sword is almost irresistible to me!)



Alex said...

The really sad part about that sword is that Albion's version is far more...sword...that what The Master had in mind. When put to the question (about Lady V), he said that his Navy officer's dress sword was the inspiration. Sigh. Great writer, but not much of a sword guy.

Old NFO said...

Pretty... and yes, it would be nice, but out of my price range too. Although I DO have my Navy sword.

Anonymous said...

Squeee! I know, I know, thou shall not covet. How about sigh, frame photo and dream?

mostly cajun said...

I like it but my son would be disappointed.

Spoiled by too many years of fantasy and sci-fi of a stature miles below Heinlein, son thinks swords should be great conglomerations of weird shapes and unpractical curves and protrusions. Real swords are functional, and in comparison with the fevered imaginations of writers who've never practiced combat without a joystick, boring...


Anonymous said...

Looks like a good tool.

Doug Watson said...

I'll be in my bunk.....

Seriously, beautiful piece of art there. Now to go hit it big in Atlantic City so I can buy one.

DaddyBear said...

I've lusted after several of Albion's Viking era swords for a few months now. Definitely going on the "If a long lost aunt leaves me a fortune" list.

Anonymous said...

I always thought "she" would be more along the lines of the "Patton" sabre. Glory Road is the reason (well one of many) I enlisted and went to fight "little brown brother". And the reason I still read the "personals" in evry newspaper, no matter where I am. Someday someone might be looking for a hero.

Jenny said...

Anon -

I do recall reading somewhere about someone writing to Heinlein, asking about the sword and Heinlein replying basically "actually, she already exists... " - as he had based her on the sword he had in the service. (I'm afraid I don't know which model that was, but I'm sure the letter's on the web someplace)

Also.... hope you find your Star. ;)

Anonymous said...

For a couple of years, Museum Replicas was offering a "falchon" in their catalog. THAT was a really interesting blade.

Peter said...

Jenny, Heinlein's letter may be found in the thread I linked in the post, about others sharing my high opinion of the sword.

MrGarabaldi said...

I like Roberts Heinlein premise in Starship Trooper, where the only people that can vote are citizens and the only way to be a citizen was to serve first. I like that idea, it would eliminate a lot of those people that like the idea of using the ballot box as a method of plunder.

Anonymous said...

I am drooling

Arthur B. Burnett said...

Greetings from Texas,
Well, Anonymous #3 beat me to the punch. The sword described is very close to a Patton Saber. The orginals are pushing $1,000.00 now but someone out there is making an excellent repop you could go to war with.
And indeed, the Patton may have been the sword Heinlein was talking about. I have had a couple of navy types tell me they had them for training. The only real difference between the description and the Patton Saber is the Patton has a strait blade.
The other choice would be the 1913 cutlass. It doesn't match the description very well at all.
The 1913 Cutlass would not be my first choice in a sword fight, but would be better than a pocket knife.

Toastrider said...

For some reason, I always pictured Lady Vivamus with a chisel-point (overall, looking like the bastard offspring of a fencing sabre and a Japanese katana). Hm.

Now, for an odd looking weapon, consider the falcata (a descendant of the Egyptian khopesh). It's basically a sword-shaped axe. I'd hate to be hit by one.